South Africa urged to end crisis in Somalia

( dpa ) - South Africa was urged Monday to put an end to human rights crises in Somalia and other countries, like Sudan and Myanmar, by putting to use its experience in ending apartheid.

South Africa's UN Ambassador Dumisani Kumalo, who assumed leadership of the 15-nation Security Council for the month of April on Tuesday, has spoken against UN inaction in places where the civilian population suffer from abusive regimes.

He had been calling for UN peacekeeping troops to end the conflicts in Somalia, but other council members fear conditions are not yet suitable for UN troops.

The New York-based Human Rights Watch said in a letter to South Africa's minister of foreign affairs, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, that the council presidency should lead to significant progress on human rights crises those countries.

"The Security Council should be signaling hope to civilians in crisis, but so far it has failed the people of Darfur, Burma and Somalia," said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch. " South Africa should lead the Security Council in a major new international effort to end horrible abuses in these places and save lives."

The group urged South Africa to set up an international commission to investigate war crimes in Somalia and for an increased international human rights monitoring presence in the country.

" South Africa has a strong record of speaking out on the need for Security Council action on the appalling human rights situation in Somalia," Roth said.

Separately on Monday, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that are dedicated to relief assistance for Somalia called for a political framework to be decided by the council to end the conflicts there.

British Ambassador John Sawers, who met with the NGOs, said the political framework should include national reconciliation and measures aimed at ending impunity in a nation torn by decades of internal fighting.

He said the Security Council should discuss in April measures to end the fighting in Somalia.

Human Rights Watch said an estimated 700,000 people were displaced by fighting in the capital, Mogadishu, in 2007, and continued fighting by warring factions inflicted daily miseries on the residents as relief organizations were facing huge challenges to help them.

The rights group said action should also be taken to end human rights abuses in Sudan's Darfur region and in Myanmar, where the military has ruled for decades.

" South Africa should push Sudan to allow the swift and unhindered deployment of peacekeepers to Darfur, including troops from outside Africa," it said.

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